Hodler junior to head Olympic bid

Rising son: Hodler was presented to the media on Thursday Keystone

The team bidding to bring the 2010 Winter Olympics to Switzerland have unveiled a new president with a somewhat familiar name.

This content was published on December 6, 2001 - 19:16

Martin Hodler, the son of Swiss IOC member Marc Hodler, is to spearhead the Bern 2010 campaign, with the bidding process itself stretching into July 2003.

"My first thought when I was offered the job last Monday was that it wouldn't work, that they wouldn't want to have another Hodler in such a position," Hodler junior admitted to swissinfo on Thursday. "But then I spoke to my father and he spoke to some of his IOC colleagues and assured me that there didn't seem to be any problem. I hope he's right!"

Proven track record

Regardless of his surname, the Bern bid team are confident that Hodler is the right man for the job, with a proven track record in both the business and sporting arenas.

President of the Vevey-based beverages company Infré, which specialises in the production of decaffeinated tea, the 57-year-old Bernese-born businessman also presides over the Swiss Olympic Sports Association and the Swiss University Sports Foundation.

No mean sportsman himself, Hodler has represented Switzerland at golf as well as playing first division handball.

"It was the combination of sport and business that appealed most to me in this job," Hodler told swissinfo. "I've been involved in sport practically since I could walk and my work with the University Sports organisations is all about promoting sport in Switzerland."

"On the business side," he continued, "I'm Bernese and I'm an entrepreneur, and I can see a chance here to help promote my region and the cantons of our friends in the west of the country. So the motivation behind this job is partly business and partly sport which makes for a beautiful link."

Mending bridges

Apart from appointing a new president, the Bern 2010 team appear to have been busy mending bridges with the Swiss Olympic Association (SOA), following accusations in September by SOA president Walter Kägi that the Bern campaign had lost its momentum.

"I think we've cleared that up now," Bern 2010 project leader Dres von Weissenfluh told swissinfo. "In the past few weeks we've been speaking to all the cantons and villages involved in the bid and getting their provisional support, which was something which the SOA was very keen on. We've also had some early success finding sponsors to fund the bid."

Differences of opinion

Von Weissenfluh admits though that there are still some differences of opinion, particularly in regard to the distances between the proposed sporting venues.

"The SOA has made it clear that they think the distances involved are too large," von Weissenfluh conceded. "We have told them that we will be looking into this issue. We want to put forward the best possible concept so if distance is a problem we will change our plans."

The bid team's flexibility has its limits though, von Weissenfluh warned.

"We have told the SOA that we are taking these questions seriously, but in the end it isn't the SOA that decides who gets the Winter Olympics. It's the International Olympic Committee."

That crucial IOC vote will not be held until the Prague assembly in July 2003 with three important milestones to be passed in the interim. After indicating a provisional interest in staging the Games by February 4, candidate cities must formally apply to the IOC by the end of August 2002. Completed bid dossiers will then have to be handed in by January 15 2003.

by Mark Ledsom

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